New data support dermatologists’ claims that tanning beds are a public health hazard, especially to young adults, according to a presentation at this month’s American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting in Boston.
“Dermatologists are working harder than ever to expose the aggressive and misleading claims by the tanning industry,” Bruce A. Brod, MD, FAAD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, said in a press release.
Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults aged 25 to 29 years and second-most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 29 years. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is a major risk factor for melanoma, with studies showing increased risk with tanning bed exposure, especially in women 45 years old and younger, said Brod.
Brod presented data to support dermatologists’ viewpoints:
- A review of seven studies found a 75% increase in melanoma risk for people who had been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
- A 2010 study examined 1,167 cases of melanoma diagnosed in people aged 25 to 29 years, showing that 62.9% had tanned indoors.
Dermatologists refute a tanning industry claim that if indoor tanning were banned, people would go outside to receive sun exposure, arguing that people in northern states are not exposed to intense, natural UV light, Brod said. A 2011 study backed up the theory that cities with long, gray winters have a higher percentage of tanning salons compared with warmer year-round cities. Specifically, Minneapolis had 9.93 tanning salons per 100,000 people compared with Miami, which had 5.24 tanning salons per 100,000 people.
Brod also cited a 2012 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce investigative report that found that “the vast majority of tanning salons contacted by the Committee investigators provided false information about the serious risks of indoor tanning and made specious claims about the health benefits that indoor tanning provides.” Specifically, “four out five salons falsely claimed that indoor tanning is beneficial to a young person’s health” and “tanning salons target teenage girls in the advertisements,” according to the report.
“While several states now have laws making it harder for teenagers to have access to indoor tanning and others are considering enacting some sort of indoor tanning regulation, there are still many hurdles to overcome to persuade more legislators to take a stand against this controllable health risk – especially since an alarming number of young people are using tanning beds,” Brod concluded.